Kalona Cooks: Could I have this dance?

Posted 5/20/99

Saturday, May 15, Jim’s nephew, Jo…

By Mary Marek

Last weekend was 48 hours of celebration for the Marek family.

Saturday, May 15, Jim’s nephew, Joe Gruebel, celebrated his graduation …

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Kalona Cooks: Could I have this dance?


Saturday, May 15, Jim’s nephew, Jo…

By Mary Marek

Last weekend was 48 hours of celebration for the Marek family.

Saturday, May 15, Jim’s nephew, Joe Gruebel, celebrated his graduation from Knoxville High School. At the same time, Joe’s mother, Pat (Marek) Gruebel, celebrated her graduation, after nine long years of part-time attendance, from Drake University in Des Moines with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.

Congratulations to both Gruebels, but especially to Pat. I can’t imagine how badly she wanted that degree, to keep working on it while raising three kids and working full-time.

The Gruebels are a very busy family. Pat and Frank have three kids, Josh, a junior at Wartburg College in Waverly who plans to be a music teacher, Joe, who is going to attend Des Moines Area Community College next year to study something horitculturish, and Jessica, a junior at Knoxville High School. The kids are active in sports, music and 4-H, among other things, and they keep Pat and her husband, Frank, running. Pat and Frank are both nurses and work for the Veterans Administration Hospital in Knoxville.

The Gruebels have a huge garden every summer and the kids raise goats and rabbits as 4-H projects. Pat is a crafter and, when she’s not working, cooking, canning the produce Frank raises in the garden, or attending sporting or music events, she’s at her sewing machine.

Maybe she’ll have time to rest now, because I don’t see how she had time to actually sleep during the last few years. Just writing about her life wore me out. I think I need a nap before I can go on.

Celebration No. 2

The second celebration of the weekend was a party honoring the 50th wedding anniversary of Dale and Janelle Marek, Jim’s uncle and aunt.

The festivities started with a Mass in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Riverside with the Reverends Mark Spring, Mark Swanson and Clifford Egert officiating. Father Egert is an old family friend who was ordained April 24, 1938 and still celebrates Mass every day at noon in St. Vincent’s in Davenport. He’ll turn 88 years young in August.

Dale and Janie’s daughter-in-law, Suzy Marek, and a few of her friends from St. James’ Catholic Church in Washington provided music for the Mass. My, those people can sing. Their rendition of “Give Me That Old Time Religion” had Father Mark clapping his hands and tapping his feet. A few other people, as well.

Following the service, dinner was served in St. Mary’s Parish Center, located in the newly redecorated basement of the church, which came as a surprise to me (the basement, not the dinner).

I’ve attended Mass in St. Mary’s several times over the years, and I never even knew it had a basement. According to some people who have spent more time there than I have, it used to be nothing more than a crawl space. It’s a whole lot more than that now. The people of the Parish have done a magnificent job and have a meeting place to be proud of.

Anyway, dinner was served to about 275 people. And what a dinner it was: salad, roast pork loin, baked potatoes, green beans and fresh rolls. Dessert was hickory nut cake, poppy seed cake or angel food cake (vanilla or chocolate) (or all of the above if you were still hungry after that huge meal). Mom-in-law Mary made the cake, except for the angel food, which her sister, and anniversary honoree, Janie, made.

Dale and Janie’s kids had done a great job of gathering pictures of their parents and themselves so that the entire history of the Dale Marek family, from their wedding day right up to the birth of their latest great-grandchild, was displayed for all to enjoy.

They had also gathered up a few favorite pictures and had used them to create a videotape of their parents’ married life, complete with music. Their choice of background music was “Could I Have This Dance”, chosen because of their parents’ love of dancing. I thought the lyrics, “Could I have this dance for the rest of my life, would you be my partner, every night?” were especially appropriate for a couple celebrating 50 years of togetherness (whether they like to dance or not).

Speaking of dancing, it’s time for me to dance into the recipes for this week. There is no rhyme or reason for my choice of recipes. I’m too tired from all the partying to make much sense at this point, so I just picked a few at random. Here goes.

Fruit-Filled Baked Pancake

2 large eggs

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. flour

1/4 tsp. salt

Pinch ground nutmeg

1 tbls. mild olive oil or vegetable oil (olive oil tastes best here)

About 3 cups mixed fresh or thawed frozen fruit and berries

Garnish: confectioner’s sugar

Bottled pourable fruit or fruit syrup (optional)

Heat oven to 450 deg. F. Have ready an ovenproof skillet 9-10 inches across the bottom or a 9-inch metal pie plate.

In food processor or blender: Process eggs, milk, flour, salt and nutmeg until smooth. By hand: Put eggs and milk in a medium bowl and beat with a wire whisk or electric mixer until well blended. Beat in flour, salt and nutmeg. (It’s OK if tiny lumps of flour are visible.)

Meanwhile, put oil in skillet or pie plate and heat in oven 5 minutes. When very hot, carefully remove from oven and pour in batter. Immediately return to oven and bake uncovered 18-20 minutes without opening oven, until pancake is puffed and crisp around edges and golden brown in middle.

Meanwhile, prepare fruit, if necessary. Mix all fruit in a bowl.

When pancake comes from oven, fill with fruit, dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut in wedges. If desired, serve with pourable fruit.

Serves 6.

Rocky Road Fudge Brownies

1 (19.8 oz.) package brownie mix

1 c. chopped pecans

3 c. miniature marshmallows

2 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate

1/3 c. milk

1/2 c. butter or margarine

1 (16 oz.) package powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions; stir in pecans. Spoon batter into a greased 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking pan.

Bake at 350 deg. for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle miniature marshmallows over hot brownies.

Combine chocolate, milk and butter in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat until chocolate and butter melt, stirring often.

Remove from heat. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat at low speed with an electric mixer until smooth. (If frosting is too stiff for spreading consistency, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until smooth.) Spread over brownies. Cool in pan on a wire rack, and cut into bars.

Makes 1 dozen.